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Bulldogs Set For WCC Championship

May 22, 2007

SPOKANE, Wash. -

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  Games 56-58
West Coast Conference Championship

Gonzaga vs. No. 5 San Diego
Cunningham Stadium (1,200)
San Diego, Calif.
Friday, May 25 - 3 p.m.
Saturday, May 26 - 2 p.m.
Sunday, May 27 - 3 p.m*
*If necessary
Series Record: USD leads 29-22-1
Last Time: Gonzaga won series 2-1
March 30 - Gonzaga 6, San Diego, 3
March 31 - San Diego 4, Gonzaga 1
April 1 - Gonzaga 6, San Diego 1

THIS WEEK: The Gonzaga University baseball team will continue its quest for a spot in the NCAA Tournament this weekend when it battles No. 5 University of San Diego in the West Coast Conference Championship at Cunningham Stadium in San Diego, Calif. San Diego, the conference's regular season champion, will be the top seed in the series. The winner of the best-of-three series will earn the league's automatic bid into the NCAA field of 64. The series will open Friday, May 25, at 3 p.m. with the second game Saturday at 2 p.m. Sunday's game, if needed, will be played at 3 p.m.

LAST OUTING: Gonzaga University wrapped up the regular season dropping a 16-6 decision to the University of Washington in Seattle on May 15. The Bulldogs took a 4-2 lead into the bottom of the sixth inning before surrendering 14 runs in the final three frames to fall to the Huskies. For the contest, Ryan Wiegand and Aaron McGuinness led the Zags at the plate, each posting two hits. Wiegand finished 2-for-2 with a run scored and two runs batted in, while McGuinness went 2-for-5 with one RBI for the evening.

LAST WCC ACTION: The Gonzaga University baseball team secured a spot in the West Coast Conference Championship the weekend of May 11-13, taking two of three games from then-No. 17 Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif. In the series opener on May 11, the Bulldogs scored three runs in the top of the ninth frame to earn the 4-3 victory. Darin Holcomb led the Zags on the afternoon, going 4-for-5 with a run scored and one run batted in. Saturday, May 12, a solid performance by starting pitcher Clayton Mortensen earned Gonzaga its first appearance in the conference championship series since 2001 as the Bulldogs downed the Waves 7-1. Mortensen, who remained perfect in conference play with a 6-0 record, struck out 15 batters in a complete-game five-hit performance. Six Bulldogs recorded multiple hits in the contest including Mike Terry who recorded his third home run of conference play; a solo shot to left center in the fourth inning. Sunday, May 13, the Zags fell short of a sweep, dropping a 4-3 decision in 11 innings. Brandon Harmon posted his team-leading sixth complete game of the season, going 10.1 innings in the loss.

ZAGS EARN SPOT IN WCC CHAMPIONSHIP: By posting two wins in Malibu on May 11-13, Gonzaga University secured a spot in the 2007 West Coast Conference Championship on May 25-27 in San Diego, Calif. The Zags face off against the league's regular-season champion nationally-ranked University of San Diego. The best-of-three series will determine which squad will earn the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. The only other time the Zags have participated in the league championship was in 2001 when they fell to Pepperdine University in three games in Malibu. The Bulldogs will be looking to earn a NCAA bid for the first time in over 25 years as the Gonzaga has not made an NCAA Regional appearance since 1981. Earlier this season the Bulldogs took two-of-three games from the Toreros in Spokane to open the WCC season.

BULLDOGS POST HIGHEST FINISH IN WCC PLAY: By posting victories over then-No. 17 Pepperdine University on May 11 and 12, the Gonzaga University baseball team locked up its highest finish in WCC history, securing second place. Gonzaga had never finished higher than fifth when the conference played a non-divisional format. The Bulldogs finished fifth in 1996 and last season's squad finished the 2006 campaign tied for fifth. The WCC played a non-divisional format Gonzaga's first three years in the conference (1996-98) and then went to the divisional format from 1999-05 before returning to non-divisional play last season.

WCC CHAMPIONSHIP TICKETS: Gonzaga University baseball fans wishing to purchase tickets for the 2007 West Coast Conference Baseball Championship may do so online at the University of San Diego website. Visit www.usdtoreros.com to purchase either reserved seating or general admission tickets to the best-of-three series. Reserved chair backs are $10 each while general admission (bleacher seating) tickets are $5 a piece. Tickets can also be purchased over the phone by calling the Toreros at (619) 260-7550.

SCOUTING THE TOREROS: The University of San Diego enters the 2007 West Coast Conference Championship series with a program high No. 5 national ranking. The Toreros are boasting a 41-15 overall record, including finishing conference play with an 18-3 record en route to earning the WCC regular season title. Seven starters for the Toreros are currently batting over .300. San Diego's pitching staff is anchored by sophomores Brian Matusz and Josh Romanski. Matusz struck out 152 batters during the regular season to set the Toreros' single-season record, while posting an 8-2 mark with a 2.43 earned run average. Romanski boasts an 8-1 record with a 3.20 ERA. Earlier this season, the Bulldogs took two of three games from San Diego in Spokane to open West Coast Conference play. The Toreros hold the all-time series advantage 29-22-1.

LAST TIME VS. SAN DIEGO: Last time Gonzaga University and the University of San Diego met, on March 30-April 1, the Zags pulled an upset, taking two of three games from the then-No. 20 Toreros to open West Coast Conference play. Josh Monroe earned the victory in the series opener, throwing 6.0 innings allowing three runs on eight hits as the Zags downed San Diego 6-3. The Toreros won the second game of the series 4-1 as San Diego scored three runs in the top of the ninth inning to break a 1-1 tie. In the rubber game, Brandon Harmon threw a complete game, holding the Toreros to only two hits over the opening eight frames, as the Bulldogs won the series with a 6-1 victory.

ZAGS IN SEARCH OF NCAA BID: Gonzaga University will be competing for an invitation to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 26 years when the Bulldogs play No. 5 University of San Diego in the West Coast Conference Championship May 25-27 in San Diego, Calif. The Bulldogs have participated in the NCAA Tournament seven times with the most recent appearance coming in 1981. That year, Gonzaga dropped two games in the Tempe Region. The Zags fell in the opening game to Arizona State University 8-6 before being eliminated after falling to Fresno State University 10-9. The Bulldogs have never advanced past the opening round of the tournament but have advanced to a regional championship twice, once in 1978 and the other in 1980.

MORTENSEN MOWS DOWN 15: Bulldog starting pitcher Clayton Mortensen struck out 15 batters on May 12 as the Gonzaga University baseball team defeated Pepperdine University 7-1 in Malibu, Calif. The performance was his fifrth game of the season with 10 or more K's. Heading into the 2007 season no Gonzaga University pitcher had fanned 10 or more batters in a single game since 2003. To date this season, a Bulldog hurler has struck out 10 or more in a single outing six times. Mortensen holds the season-high count with 16 K's against the University of Portland on April 18. In addition to Mortensen, Chris Highmark also hit the 10+ K mark with ten punch outs against Southern Utah University on March 3. The Gonzaga pitching staff is recording, on average, 6.31 strikeouts a game. For his efforts against Pepperdine, Mortensen was named West Coast Conference Pitcher of the Week; his third WCC accolade this season.

BULLDOGS HIT 30: With a 6-4 victory over Loyola Marymount University on May 6, not only did the Gonzaga University baseball team secure a series sweep, the Zags also posted their 30th win of the season. The 30 wins marked the first time since the 1990 campaign in which the Bulldogs have posted 30 or more wins in a season. Currently the Zags have a 32-23 record. In 1990, the club went 37-21. The 1994, 1995 and 2006 teams all finished their respective seasons with 29 victories.

HARMON RACKS UP INNINGS: Junior pitcher Brandon Harmon currently ranks sixth in the nation with 117.0 innings pitched. Harmon, who has thrown six complete games including a 10.1 inning outing on May 13 at Pepperdine University, also currently ranks second in the Gonzaga University single-season record book. The right hander is two innings shy of the school record of 119.0 innings, set in 1995 by Darin Blood. Clayton Mortensen also ranks nationally in innings pitched, ranking 11th with 110.1. The nation's innings pitched leader is Adam Mills of the University of North Carolina - Charlotte. He has thrown 127.2 innings.

MORTENSEN HITS TOP 15 NATIONALLY: Gonzaga University pitcher Clayton Mortensen ranks in the top 15 in NCAA Division I strikeouts. The senior, who has struck out 116 batters, ranks 13th in the national rankings and second in the West Coast Conference. The national overall strikeout leader is the Vanderbilt University's David Price, who has struck out 164. Ranking second is the University of San Diego's Brain Matusz with 152 K's, averaging 12.3 K's per game. Against the Zags on March 30, Matsuz fell way below his average, only striking out four as he suffered the 6-3 loss to the Bulldogs. Mortensen also ranks in the nation in strikeouts per nine innings (59th) with 9.5 as well as ranking in victories (64th) with eight.

GOING THE DISTANCE: Of the 55 games played this season by the Gonzaga University baseball team, the Bulldog pitching staff has posted 12 complete games. The dozen complete games marks the most complete games thrown by Gonzaga pitchers since the 1995 season. In 1995, the Zags recorded 20 complete games in a season in which the Bulldogs finished with a 29-25 record. The school record for complete games in a season is 33 games and was set during the 1976 season. This season, Brandon Harmon has paced the pitching staff with a career-high six complete games.

HOLCOMB MOVES UP IN RECORD BOOK: Junior third baseman Darin Holcomb has entered into the Gonzaga University single-season record book for hits in a season. Holcomb, who has 81 hits so far this season, surpassed former Zag Jason Bay (80) for 10th place. Holcomb is now only one hit short of a three-way tie for eighth place. The school record for hits in a single season is held by Larry Patterson who posted 91 hits during the 1977 season. Holcomb is also two at-bats shy of placing in the top 10 for single season at-bats. Holcomb is already tied for fourth on the list with 288 at-bats during the 2006 campaign. Tim Mierz holds the school record with 253 at-bats during the 1981 season.

MORTENSEN RECORD WATCH: Senior pitcher Clayton Mortensen, of the Gonzaga University baseball team, has struck out 116 batters this season, moving him into sole possession of fourth place in the Bulldog single-season record book. On May 12, his 15 strikeout performance against Pepperdine University moved Mortensen up two spots. Heading into the weekend, the senior was tied for fifth place with Mike Davey (101) before moving his way past current Bulldogs assistant coach Steve Bennett (109) for sole possession of fourth place. Mortensen is the sixth Bulldog in school history to post 100 or more strikeouts in a single season. The single season strikeout record is held by Darin Blood, who struck out 145 batters faced during the 1995 campaign.

BULLDOGS VS. RANKED OPPONENTS: The Gonzaga University baseball team has played 11 games against Division I ranked opponents, amassing a 5-6 record. Five of the 11 games were played in the opening three weeks of the season. In total, the Bulldogs have played seven opponents that are currently ranked, posting a 6-9 record against those foes. Currently ranked opponents include No. 5 University of San Diego, No. 6 Arizona State University, No. 10 University of Arizona, No. 11 University of Missouri, No. 13 UC Riverside, No. 23 Oregon State University, and No. 24 Pepperdine University. During the opening three weeks of the season, the Bulldogs played five opponents that are currently ranked in the top 25 (UA, UCR, OSU, Mizzou, ASU).

FIRST CAREER HOME RUN A BIG ONE: On May 4, against Loyola Marymount University, with Gonzaga University down by a run with a runner on and two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, pinch hitter Mark Castellitto stepped up to the plate. The freshman smacked his first home run of his career, nearly hitting off the scoreboard in right field, to give the Bulldogs a 7-6 victory. The walk-off home run was the first at the new home of the Bulldogs, Patterson Baseball Complex and Washington Trust Field, as well as the first GU walk-off long ball since 2001. On March 25, 2001, Kevin Richardson hit a walk-off to secure a 10-8 extra-inning victory over Santa Clara University at August/A.R.T. Stadium in Spokane.

LONG ROAD SWING: The Gonzaga University baseball team began the 2007 season on a 21-game road swing. Over the first month and a half of the season, the Bulldogs visited five states, including two trips to Arizona. Besides Arizona, GU traveled to California, Texas, Idaho and Utah, totaling nearly 10,500 miles. During the stint, the Zags posted an 11-10 record.

LIVE ON THE INTERNET: The West Coast Conference Championship games will be available via Gametracker on the internet at http://www.gozags.com. Check the Gonzaga web site for all Gametracker links.

LIVE ON THE RADIO: The West Coast Conference Championship games between Gonzaga University and the University of San Diego will be aired live on the radio in the greater Spokane area. Games on May 25-27 will be aired live on 790 THE FAN. The broadcasts will begin 15 minutes prior to the scheduled first pitch. Calling games for the Bulldogs will be Tom Hudson.

PATTTERSON BASEBALL COMPLEX AND WASHINGTON TRUST FIELD: This season the Zags call the Gonzaga University campus home for the first time in nearly three and a half years. The 2007 season marks the inaugural year of play at Patterson Baseball Complex and Washington Trust Field. The new home of Bulldog baseball is a state-of-the-art facility that also incorporates an old-time baseball feel. The new stadium includes 1,300 theater-style seats and includes classic brick detailing. Major League amenities include a state-of-the-art infield, a professional candle lighting system and authentic home and visitor dugouts with underground passages to full-service clubhouses. The first game at the new facility was March 15 against Rider University. The facility also features eight light poles, two which are 90 feet tall while the other six stand at 80 feet. Dedication ceremonies were held April 20 prior to the game against Saint Mary's College.

HOME SWEET HOME: On Friday, April 20, 1,514 fans showed up to watch the Gonzaga University baseball team play Saint Mary's College at the new Patterson Baseball Complex and Washington Trust Field. The number of fans marked the highest attendance at a home baseball game in Bulldog history. This season, 11,332 fans came to watch Gonzaga play, compared to 5,121 fans during the 2006 season. Last season, the Zags played all home games at Avista Stadium during the construction of Patterson Baseball Complex and Washington Trust Field.

TRIO NAMED TO WCC 40th ANIVERSITY TEAM: Three former Gonzaga University baseball standouts were named to the West Coast Conference/Rawlings 40th Anniversary Baseball Team. Former Bulldogs Jason Bay, Nate Gold and Barry Matthews were named to the ceremonial team that consists of 40 of the top players that have graced WCC baseball diamonds over the past four decades. Bay, the 2004 National League Rookie of the Year, compiled a .374 career average with 125 runs, 152 hits, 24 doubles, 35 home runs and 121 runs batted in as a Bulldog. Gold, the WCC single-season home run champion, hit a league-record and NCAA leading 33 long balls in the 2002 season. The 2002 WCC Player of the Year posted a .307 career average with 147 hits, 95 runs, 46 home runs and 124 RBI. Matthews was one of the top two-way players in Gonzaga history. At the plate, Matthews compiled a .332 career average with 144 runs, 207 hits, 29 home runs and 130 RBI. On the mound, he posted a 21-12 career record, registering a 5.01 earned run average with 11 complete games, 284 innings pitched and 215 strikeouts.

NEWCOMERS LEAD CANADA TO BRONZE: Mark Ellis and Cory Hall, a pair of freshman on the Gonzaga University baseball team, helped lead the Canadian Junior National team to a bronze medal last summer at the 2006 World Junior AAA Championships in Sancti Spiritus, Cuba. Hall pitched seven innings of relief allowing two runs on eight hits while posting five strikeouts earning a 6-2 win over Mexico for third place. For the tournament, Hall posted a 3-1 recording with a 1.13 earned run average and 15 strikeouts. Ellis, Canada's starting third baseman, posted a .207 average with one double and two runs batted in. The bronze medal was Canada's fifth-ever medal at the World Junior AAA Championships and it's first medal since 1997.

HEAD COACH Mark Machtolf: Mark Machtolf is in his fourth season as the head coach of the Gonzaga University baseball team and 15th year as a member of the Bulldog coaching staff. Machtolf was handed the head coaching reigns on August 7, 2003, following an 11-year stint as an assistant coach, replacing former head coach Steve Hertz, who moved into an administrative position in the Gonzaga Athletic Department. Machtolf has posted an 113-100 record at Gonzaga, including a 55-44 mark in West Coast Conference play. During his first three seasons he has led the Bulldogs to four top-five finishes and produced the WCC Player of the Year in 2004, former Zag Kiel Thibault. During the summer of 2006, Machtolf served as an assistant coach for Team USA. Under his guidance, the team posted a 28-2-1 record, including going a perfect at 8-0 record the Federation Internationale du Sport Universitaire (FISU) World Championships in Havanna, Cuba. A 1987 graduate of Stanford University, Machtolf was a member of the Cardinal's 1987 College World Series championship team and was an All-CWS selection.

NINE EARN WCC WEEKLY ACCOLADES: Nine times this season, members of the Gonzaga University baseball team were awarded weekly West Coast Conference accolades. A Bulldog was named the WCC Pitcher of the Week seven times this season, including a in four consecutive weeks from March 26 to April 17. Twice a Zag earned the league's Player of the Week honor. Clayton Mortensen leads the pack, being named Pitcher of the Week on three different occasions - February 12, April 30 and May 14. Jeremy Stumetz and Brandon Harmon each earned the honor twice. Stumetz was named Pitcher of the Week for the weeks of April 16 and March 26, while junior Brandon Harmon earned the accolade on April 2 and 9. Sophomore Ryan Wiegand and junior Darin Holcomb were named Player of the Week on April 23 and March 26, respectively.

MORTENSEN EARNS NATIONAL HONOR: Clayton Mortensen's outstanding performance against Pepperdine University on May 12 earned him the InsidePitching.com West Region Performance of the Week on May 14. The honor marked the second time this season the senior has earned the national accolade. Against the Waves, Mortensen threw a complete game allowing only five hits while striking out 15. Earlier this season, the Rexburg, Idaho native earned the same accolade after a four-hit complete game shutout at the University of San Francisco on April 28.

ZAGS PICKED TO FINISH FIFTH: The Gonzaga University baseball team has been selected to finish fifth in the 2007 West Coast Conference preseason poll, as voted on by the conference's head coaches. Pepperdine University, received six first place votes and a total of 47 points to edge out the University of San Diego and 2006 WCC regular season co-champion University of San Francisco for first place. The Toreros and Dons tied for second place with 41 points apiece, with each team garnering a first place vote. Loyola Marymount University checked in at fourth with 28 points, just edging out the Zags, who received 25 points. Santa Clara University was tabbed for a sixth place finish with 19 points, while Saint Mary's College and the University of Portland were picked to finish seventh and eighth with 16 and eight points, respectively.